Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 11

You may be familiar with my Poetry Marathons – I’ve done them since winter, 2015. I take a week, several times a year, and devote it to poetry – writing, editing, all poetry-related activities.

This year, in addition to scheduling the regular long versions, I have decided to do one segment of a Marathon each week. Two to three hours set aside for poetry, outside my regular life. It’s called the Installment Plan Poetry Marathon.

For more background information, look here. And if you want to read previous posts in this series, search this blog under the term Installment Plan Poetry Marathon 2017.

On Friday, March 17, I was back in my desk at Chestnut Hill College, Logue Library, 3rd floor.

The snow that fell earlier in the week is still here, though it’s warming up a bit.


This is not the week to sit at that picnic table outside the building, though.

I arrived at the library not long after they opened and settled in to work. I went back to my practice of doing a session of speedy poetry writing, then looking over last week’s work – I did things the opposite way last week and I found myself mentally a little tired when it was time to write. I want to have the best of my energy for writing new things, so the old pattern was better. Now I know.

The library was very quiet. I don’t think anyone came to my area all day, other than a lady sweeping the floor and an electrician who talked to me for a while (though I never found out what he was doing, work-wise). I love the peacefulness of being alone and with a lot of books surrounding me.

My work today seemed to be a therapy session for me and snow/cold/sleet/winter. Our unseasonal storm unsettled me, coming as it did after a winter of almost no severe weather. I am more sensitive to what the atmosphere is doing outside than I used to be, and I associate snowstorms with my health problems of a couple of winters ago. I feel vulnerable, I guess. And it’s too bad, because I used to enjoy snow as a special time, almost a holiday, when the usual routine didn’t count – a time out of the ordinary.

Well, maybe as more winters pass, I will regain that feeling. This poetry/therapy session may be a step in that direction.

All right. Here is one of those snow poems:

The snow falls harder
the wind louder, the room smaller
The pattern on the carpet flickers
the colors in the knitted afghan tossed on the sofa
suddenly garish.
ashamed to be afraid
and yet ready to square off in
defense of being afraid
we look at each other
the unease on one face reflected
around the circle
It’s just snow
I said
It’s just snow.

This poem I wrote after the conversation with the electrician. I often am the recipient of strangers’ confessional outpourings and I don’t know why. Some conversations are pleasant, but usually people who do this kind of thing just want to complain. That’s what today’s incident was, a small dark cloud. I held up well, made sympathetic responses, and let out my own feelings right here. Sometimes you just have to laugh?


Open the window
throw out that bag from the fast food place
the lunch you didn’t finish
the squeezed-up ketchup containers
the hamburger wrapper
and toss the water bottles after it
right into my lap
Drive off
while I pick the french fries out of my hair.
Thanks for stopping and talking.

I did one other thing – I took leftover words from the magnetic poetry binge I’ve been on recently and tried to see if they took me anywhere. I had arranged some phrases earlier and used them as a taking-off point. I am not too sure how well it went, but I enjoyed the little jaunts they took me on.

I did have nice skin
not too wrinkly
My hair sprayed smooth.
I wore my diamond chip earrings on good occasions
with my blue suit that was just right
ignoring that one time when the hem was torn out and repaired with tape.
I wasn’t as fat as some
I never asked why you liked fried eggs
or coffee out of a jar
Just made them.
I guess
it all depends what you want out of life.

As I was finishing up, I saw that the sun was doing a great job of melting snow on the roof of the next building. A photo doesn’t capture it, but snowmelt is just pouring into the gutters and glittering in the sunshine.

OK, that’s it! Until next week.


16 thoughts on “Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 11

  1. 8.

    Open the window
    throw out that bag from the fast food place
    the lunch you didn’t finish
    the squeezed-up ketchup containers
    the hamburger wrapper
    and toss the water bottles after it
    right into my lap
    Drive off
    while I pick the french fries out of my hair.
    Thanks for stopping and talking.

    This is so good. Love it!

  2. Thank you. This one just fell right out of my thoughts, formed already. ( I like when that happens.) I hate litter and I sometimes think people complaining is litter for my ears. !

  3. Thank you. I did not notice the weather and its effects on me as I do now. I think health issues made me less flexible in my mind as to scary situations. Writing these poems helped. Thank you for reading, as always, xx

  4. All are great poems but I definitely enjoyed the fast food one because of that whole extended metaphor. Junk food assaulting you as a metaphor for that type of communication is just perfect. It does no good for us and yet we indulge it (because it’s full of disgusting addictive stuff in the case of food and because we have been trained to be polite and compassionate, patient listeners in the case of the conversations) but it somehow also clogs up our minds and makes them sluggish and leaves us feeling a bit like we have been tainted by the other person’s negativity – like fries in the hair. Or at least that is my own experience of such things that I am projecting on to your words through my interpretation. I have had a couple of friends who were just such relentless and talkative Eeyores that I felt as though my soul was being sucked dry trying to always be the sympathetic and supportive friend.

  5. I think you are right on the mark with your interpretation (it matches my intentions perfectly). Fast food is not good for you and not that tasty. Like people spewing complaints. Ugh all over.

  6. I recently had a conversation/confirmation of the associations we have to traumatic events, in your case your illness and the (unexpected) snow. It takes time to resolve. – how’s your husband doing by the way? The poem about the junk food conversation is just brilliant!

  7. Thank you for all you said! You are right, once an association is set up, now it has to be erased or remediated. Time does heal, and so does facing the enemy. Writing is one way to do that. The junk food conversation, it just came into my mind after that real-world conversation in the library – I saw the words the same as trash tossed out kind of indiscriminately! And thank you for asking about my husband – he is doing very well – back at his office for two weeks and handling it well. He will get the brace off in early April but the rehab will of course take months more – but, he is walking well, and that’s the first step (no pun intended) in getting function back. I hope you are well yourself!

  8. Those desks are beautiful.
    Alone, surrounded by books. Bliss.
    The first poem struck a chord with me. I feel the same way as you do towards the weather, and for the same reasons as you. I never tell anyone, I assume it’s silly and they wouldn’t understand. Maybe, they would.

  9. As for the library, sometimes I just sit there (in solitude surrounded by books, as you say) and I feel such a sense of safety and contentment. The library is a refuge. And as for the weather, I am glad that you see you are not alone in how you feel. Sometimes I think it’s those things we don’t say, not saying them is an additional hurt added to whatever is the original pain. And yet the cost of revealing too much is high. I don’t like revealing something more personal and having it out there for anyone to pick at. But on this topic, well, I am here to say, we are together now!

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